Mirco-Managing costs time and money. Pick your red flags to know your business health

I was speaking with the manager of a restaurant recently when I asked a simple question. Any reader of this site knows how much I love a good simple question.  It aims the conversation directly where I need it to go in a way that I can follow up on after they give a “knee-jerk” response.

Very simply I asked, “Why do you think a business owner would ask the staff to do small, time-consuming things before they leave for the night when it doesn’t add customers or save money?”

The interviewee said “He’s a MICRO-MANAGER!”  I smiled and told her she was wrong.

Micromanaging is one of those terms that people like to use when they have a boss that goes over-board on ensuring his business is run a specific way and in turn gets in the way of getting the job done. 

Sometimes when an owner wants something random done, it isn’t for reasons of control…although it could be.  I wouldn’t put it past a bad person to be a bad owner.  Power in business is something that should be wielded to keep market-share, not hurt your own team.  Micro-managers are a tough lot.  It is an element of TRUST that they lack, so they fire off at the mouth and end up with a small, very low profit business.  On the other hand, managing the random things keeps the important things in check.  How can that be, Bob???  The answer lies in the nature of being an owner.

Most employees think that a business owner is a lazy SOB who hired someone else because he wants to free up his time for a good game of golf.  The truth is far from that perspective.  An owner has paperwork, costs, management, marketing, and his personal life all wrapped up into the business many people resent him for having.  It is a 24 hour a day job that does not get a real break where he can toss the workload over to someone else to handle.  So, with less time than he would like to have, he needs to find out how healthy the business is without living in the store.  (These are the paragraphs that I get the most mail about. Someone wants to add something to the list or tell me a horror story about being an owner.)  These are not micro-managers.  This the nature of the job of being an owner.

If you are a real business owner and not a micro-manager, you want to know how your business is being run without having to spend 100% of your time inside the four walls of the business.  If you want to stay in business, you can’t be there.  You have to get out and get customers in.  So, how do you run a good business without having to check on everything every day?  You have small, time consuming tasks that you can check on to know whether the business is being run to your standards.

I used to check handles on every piece of equipment.  If the handles weren’t clean, the restaurant wasn’t clean.  If you don’t clean the one part of the equipment that everyone touches, you don’t know what clean is.  If that one little check is wrong, I want more answers because there is more that they are neglecting.  I will do a top to bottom check of all the daily duties, run an audit, and ask the staff questions about what they think their job is at the store.

Why go for something small and not just check the big things?  Because things can “look” right and still be very wrong.  I have seen faked deposit slips, fraudulent inventory counts, and people on the payroll who didn’t exist.  If your business is bigger than one location, you need a red flag to let you know when you need to dig deeper.  It keeps the paranoia in check and lets you in a few seconds know if you need to jump in and stop everything from falling apart.

So, what can you have your team do to ensure they are managing your business the way you want?

Bob Griffin – CEO

Twitter: @BusinessBulldog


http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=721  Thanks to Renjith Krishnan who offered this image for use.

I always enjoy working with new business owners.  They have a keen eye toward profits and a clear picture of where they want their business to go.  It is that fresh attitude and vitality that I thrive on and keeps me going.  I love the look of pure energy that they show.  It is what makes other people around them encourage them and also to be a little jealous of the path the owner is on.  Every book on leadership, entrepreneurship, and self improvement talks about that spark of life that the person who breaks away and runs toward the freedom of owning a business.  It is also what doesn’t last…at least not long enough.

There is a reason that a store sees huge boosts in sales and customer counts when a new owner takes over.  There is a reason that word of mouth marketing buzzes with the talk of a change to an old establishment and how much better it feels.  It is because of that spark.  And sparks flame out.  How do you keep that spark alive? 

At Business Bulldog we live a business philosophy of “Small Wins”.

A small win is when you can easily see a change for the better and nobody had to move too far from where they were.  Small wins change things gradually and are sustainable.  I have been in business consulting for far more years than I care to mention here and I can tell you that the guy who buys a business and turns it around fast can’t keep it that way for long.  Small changes every day make people notice a something is different (like when there is a new owner), but it is easy to keep going and build on.

Big changes are exhausting and cause chaos.

There are people reading this who can point to a store that they bought, gutted the place and the personnel, and made a million dollars.  Good for you.  I bet you can’t do it again. There is a reason why gutting and burning the old way a business was run is a bad idea and it falls on the reason you bought the business in the first place.

If the business was so wonderfully great that you were willing to put good money down to buy it, then why did you think that making big changes would be a good idea?  If was run so poorly that you had to break out the blow torch and start making charcoal, why didn’t you just lease a space down the street and put them out of their misery?  It was because there was a brand worth saving.

If you want to be the grand savior, you have to start by realizing that the reason you wanted to buy the place is the same reason customers spend money there.  Move too far away from that and you will fail.  I watch major companies struggle with leaders who want to make their mark when they take over and they run off customers and great staff.  how many companies can you name that had a change of leadership and when down in flames? Far too many.

No one likes change.

Small wins make huge differences.  I can tell you first hand that I have been the guy to shake things up as well as the guy who walks quietly into the room.  I have been stabbed and shot at for being the guy trying to make quick changes.  I like being the guy with the smile and the even temper.  I think it added ten years to my life to be the quiet guy with a simple plan.  People aren’t trying to kill me now.  Man, I wish I had learned that lesson sooner.

So, how does a new owner make small wins?  Find the reason that the business works in the first place and build on that.  I can tell you that there are really bad things going on at any business.  It is human nature for some employees to try to get away with whatever they can.  Even if it costs the business and their job.  I have no idea why they do it, but I can tell you there is someone working against you right now.  If you start to minimize the time that person has to do bad things, they will either work somewhere else because they can find the time to be bad or they will change with you.  Most people want to be recognized for being good.  So, recognize what is good about your new business.

Even if you have been the owner of your business for decades and want to see that new success, you can.  Find a way to have a small win and celebrate it.  I mean REALLY CELEBRATE IT!  Don’t go half way and expect your team to be hungry to show you more wins.  They will just think you have lost your mind and walk backwards away from you smiling and saying something reassuring until the reach the door.  Go BIG!

You can have rotten sales (it is one of the worst economic times in history) and still find a win.  It can be as simple as a customer compliment.

Find the customer who gave you good feedback and honor them.  Then, find the employee and make them king for the week.  There is no end to the new path that you can walk down if you are willing to celebrate small successes.

Tell me about your success and I will celebrate your business on this blog!!!  We have readers from 44 countries and I am sure you could use the free press.  Tell me about your small wins.

Email:  SmallWins@BusinessBulldog.com

Bob Griffin – CEO Business Bulldog

Twitter: @BusinessBulldog

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=33704176&trk=tab_pro